2014 Kia Soul

Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4 man trans

2014 kia soul Reviews and News

2014 Toyota Corolla 2014 Kia Soul Front Three Quarters Lead
The Toyota Corolla is an undisputed heavyweight among small cars. It has a seemingly permanent place on the list of the Top Ten Bestselling Nameplates. It’s reliable, fuel-efficient, and affordable, and it’s been around forever—well, 48 years, anyway. During that time, Toyota has sold nearly 40 million Corollas.
But the small-car segment is changing. New players are arriving, and they want to take a bite out of the Corolla’s sales. Enter Kia and its quirky, boxy Soul.

The Corolla and the Soul could not be more different. The Corolla is a traditional compact sedan. The Soul looks almost like a small crossover. But both cars have the same purpose, are competing for the same young and hip customers, and both were just redesigned for the 2014 model year. Why not pair them up to analyze different approaches to the small-car segment?
For our comparison, we selected a 2014 Corolla LE Plus, which cost $21,870, to face off against a very basic Soul, which cost $15,610. Though that’s a significant gap in price, $6260, it didn’t handicap the Kia. “You’re getting way more coolness than the price would indicate,” said deputy editor Joe DeMatio.
We tested the Soul and the Corolla as winter settled in around Automobile Magazine’s base in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Unlike some of our tests, which feature high-speed loops of the Nurburgring Nordschleife or exotic jaunts on the twisty roads in Southern France, we simply drove the Soul and the Corolla normally, the way typical compact car owners would use them. We did errands. We drove to work. We went shopping and out to eat. We dealt with cold and snow. It probably sounds a lot like you what you did in mid-December.
After several weeks, we reached a verdict: The Soul came out on top. We liked how it looked, and we liked how it drove. It felt newer, more innovative, and it had significantly more space. Even though the Soul was not a traditional compact sedan, that proved to be a strength, as we liked its unconventional approach.
“Being a hatchback, the Soul has much of the appeal of a crossover,” said associate web editor Jake Holmes.
These two cars paint a striking picture of the establishment (Toyota) versus the spunky up-and-comer, Kia. The Korean brand is trying to be a trendsetter, and that shows in the Soul. Conversely, the Corolla comes off as staid and boring. It’s a new car, but we felt a sense of déjà vu.
“This car could have come out ten years ago, and I wouldn’t have been surprised,” Holmes said. “It’s everything you would expect and nothing more.”
For Appearances’ Sake
Neither car had a decided edge in the looks department. In fact, we rather liked them both. The Soul’s design was only lightly updated for the 2014 model year, and it remains one of the most recognizable boxes on wheels. The Corolla is much curvier and more creased than the model it replaces. It’s a contemporary look, and like the Dodge Dart and Ford Focus, the design attempts to make the Corolla appear larger and more upscale.
Room to Roam in the Cabin
Slipping inside, we immediately felt at home in the Soul. It was taller and wider than the Corolla, and that made for more headroom, more leg room, and more interior volume. With the rear seats folded, the Soul provides 61.3 cu ft of cargo space, or 24.2 cu ft with the seats up. You could easily get a decent-sized piece of furniture back there. In fact, with the seats down, the Soul has a greater cargo volume than the Sportage, which Kia markets as a crossover.
The Corolla also had a good amount of space (its passenger volume of 97 cu ft was fairly close to the Soul’s 101 cu ft). But it felt less spacious due in part to its fat, slanted C-pillars, which hurt visibility and were a problem when parking in tight areas or merging onto the expressway. Yes, they make for a cool roofline, but it’s at the expense of rear-seat headroom. We did like the view out the front, however, as the wide windshield and low cowl afford great forward visibility. The Corolla’s trunk, which measures 13 cu ft, is also spacious. A golf bag would fit back there easily, and it could handle a week’s worth of groceries. We had no beef with the Toyota’s cargo hold, we just preferred the versatility offered by the Soul.
The Corolla’s substantially higher price tag was reflected in the materials found in the cabin. The Corolla felt like a much nicer car on the inside than the Soul. There was fashionable stitching and trim across the dashboard, a head-up display, a sporty tri-gauge cluster, and the use of color throughout the cabin was tasteful. The options, like push-button start, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, and the Entune premium audio system (all part of the $1510 driver convenience package), made the Corolla seem more upscale. It outshined the Soul, which had cloth seats, hard plastics, and required use of a key for entry. Although the Soul had few of the Corolla’s bells and whistles, we didn’t penalize it for that because it can be optioned up. (The top-trim Soul Exclaim comes with LED lights, UVO connectivity, and a rear camera, for $21,095.)
Driving Dynamics Make the Difference
Once in motion, however, the Corolla’s polish wore off. Its harsh and noisy ride dominated the driving experience, even though the Toyota’s powertrain has some positives.
“On first impression, everything looks more upscale than you'd expect, like the classy dash design, well-finished steering wheel, and nicely weighted buttons and knobs,” noted associate web editor Joey Capparella. “Once you get past this, though, there's a sense that the whole car is slightly hollowed-out; the seats are thinly padded, the ride is harsher than you'd expect. It's pretty nice on the surface, but the cheapness is still there.”
The Corolla’s 138-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine was peppy enough, and paired with the continuously variable transmission produces an impressive 38 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in the city (32 mpg combined). Those figures easily eclipsed the Soul’s disappointing 30 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in the city (26 mpg combined).
Fuel economy is an undeniably important component in a small-car purchase. But it’s not the only one. “I can absolutely understand why someone would buy the Corolla,” said Holmes, “but I cannot say I enjoyed my time behind the wheel.”
The Soul, even in its basic spec, was the better car to drive, although a little rough around the edges. The base Soul’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 130 hp wasn’t particularly inspiring, but we enjoyed wringing the most out of it with the six-speed manual transmission.
We found the Soul to be surprisingly quiet for the segment, even when cruising along Interstate 94 at 70 mph. The four-cylinder is a bit raspy, as most are, but it wasn’t offensive. The inputs—throttle, brakes, and steering—were responsive, and we felt connected to the road. “This is the first Kia I’ve driven that has good steering weight and overall dynamics,” associate editor David Zenlea said.
The suspension, which uses MacPherson struts in front and a beam axle in back, is taut, but not harsh. It’s a big step forward from the first generation. Though the ride could still be a little rough over Michigan’s pockmarked roads, it was not nearly as severe as in the Corolla. It took much more to ruffle the Soul, which felt planted and solid.
Plus, the Soul offers a solid value (and warranty), for which Kia has become known. For less than $16,000, you get Bluetooth, cruise control, three months of Sirius/XM satellite radio and a USB port. “You really do get a ton of car with the base Soul,” Capparella said.
The Verdict
In the end, we weren’t fooled by the Corolla’s niceties. It’s an average car with some above-average features. But the Soul is more of a total package. It does have flaws, yet it still won us over with its funky styling, solid driving character, spacious cargo hold, and its competitive pricing structure. The Soul gives you a lot of car for not a lot of coin. It might sound trite, but the Soul did indeed have a soul. That’s something the Corolla lacked, and that’s why Kia won the day in this test.
2014 Toyota Corolla
Price as Tested: $21,870
Engine: 1.8L I-4, 132 hp, 128 lb-ft
Transmission: Continuously Variable
Drive: Front-wheel
Fuel economy: 29/38/32 mpg (city/highway/combined)
Cargo Space: 13 cubic feet
2014 Kia Soul
Price as Tested: $15,610
Engine: 1.6L I-4, 130 hp, 118 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: Front-wheel
Fuel Economy: 24/30/26 mpg (city/highway/combined)
Cargo Space: 24.2/61.3 cubic feet (seats up/down)
2014 Kia Soul Front Right View
San Diego -- On the one hand, there’s the Volkswagen Beetle and Mazda Miata. When it came time to redesign these icons, they were done right. On the other hand, the second generation Scion xB was botched. Unable to come up with a suitable rodent counterpart to match the darling hamsters in Kia Soul commercials and thoroughly trounced by the South Korean in sales, the xB soon will say sayonara. Coming from nowhere in 2009 to bust the compact crossover segment, the Soul has enjoyed annual sales increases. Kia sold 112,000 units in 2012. This is despite the fact that the car was crotchety and compromised.
Now, Kia has introduced the second-generation 2014 Soul, operating its launch from the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego’s lively Gaslamp Quarter. In the heart of this district, Pininfarina updated an old office building and it re-opened in 2007 as the Keating Hotel. Like the Keating, the Soul’s exterior is freshened. The car incorporates slight dimensional growth though with a slightly lower height, to appear more substantial and better planted. It picks up elements from the 2012 Track’ster concept, including a more exaggerated front “tusk” -- the Soul’s original inspiration came from a TV show about wild boars. Meanwhile, the rear liftgate now wears a “backpack,” which is a body-colored panel that appears to float on the glass and is supposed to impart a high-tech look. Available LED taillamps are a bit gaudy for our tastes, and a pair of self-consciously large reflectors accentuate the rear corners. The overall effect may be controversial; some will find it an uncomely pastiche.
Likewise, inside and underneath, the Soul is updated and uprated. To tell the difference, we need only drive the top-spec Soul Exclaim over the San Diego Trolley’s tracks 250 feet from the hotel and turn onto Harbor Drive. Even with nondescript suspension components -- MacPherson struts in front and a beam axle in the rear -- the old car’s yo-yo-ing body and brass knuckles ride on optional 18-inch wheels have vanished.
From San Diego’s harbor, there follows a supremely entertaining gallop to Alpine and then through the bouldery Viejas Mountains to Otay Lakes. Not only does the Soul’s excellent comportment open our eyes wide, but also it leaves us thinking Kia Motors America had better find local factory space to alleviate the production constraints back in South Korea, where the Soul is built. The new car is so good, so thoroughly and positively transformed, that its maker should expect still greater demand.

A cautious program for the new car

“We had to approach it very, very carefully,” says Orth Hedrick, Kia executive director of product planning. When transforming the Soul, its simple suspension received sorely needed upgrades and revisions. Hedrick talks about the larger, better isolated front subframe with “big, fat, huge washers between it and the car.” New front geometry and a relocated stabilizer bar help even more.
Continuing the makeover, the old rear suspension, which Hedrick calls “horrible,” was thrown out. In the name of a low load floor, there had been some cockeyed angles, which overwhelmed the shock absorbers. Now the twin-tube shocks are upright, and bushing diameter increases from 2.8 inches to three inches. Go ahead, hit a chuckhole in mid-turn: the Soul remains composed and authoritative.
The electrically assisted power steering is another highlight, thanks to a faster processor controlling the system. (It replaces a hydraulic one.) “The response of the motor to driver inputs is much quicker than on our previous designs,” Hedrick says. “The relocated steering box is now one piece instead of two. It’s stiffer. What that basically does is improves the overall feel of the steering. It’s a lot more responsive and solid-feeling.” On-center touch and variable buildup of effort is uncanny. The optional Flex Steer feature offers the choice among Comfort, Normal, and Sport steering modes.
The other stunner is how well suppressed wind and road noise are inside the airy cabin. A polyurethane layered carpet contributes to this improvement, suppressing noise by three decibels.
On our longest straightaway between ridges, we extract a wail from our Soul’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Kia has enhanced the 164-hp engine with direct injection and a higher compression ratio. Manually shifting the automatic gearbox into sixth (another big improvement over the old four-speed automatic), we mention when the speedometer needle hit 100 mph. “Really?” an incredulous passenger says.

Hamsters for hipsters

The target Soul buyer is an 18- to 29-year-old male who is single, individualistic, and into music, according to Michael Sprague, Kia’s executive vice president for marketing and communications. It is possible to imagine such a driver also hitting 100 mph on an obscure straightaway and then setting the Soul’s nose for a turn. But he’s probably more interested in the 10-speaker sound system (the subwoofer stays right up atop the dashboard, where it has always been prominent). And, dude! Four moody new colors join the pulsating LED door-speaker rings’ previous three.
Our hipster will appreciate the super-sharp, Android-based navigation and infotainment display. He will enjoy the thick dashboard covering, high-gloss trim, dual-density-foam seats, 4.3-inch redundant screen between the tachometer and speedometer, and panorama roof. The multifunction steering wheel designed by Kia’s great Peter Schreyer, who has done so much to bring this brand alive and now has design duties at Hyundai as well, will also please.
Our test car, the top-of-the-line Exclaim with standard 18-inch wheels is expected to account for only 10 percent of the model mix, with the mid-level Plus ($18,995) taking 50 percent and the base Soul ($15,495) with the direct-injection 1.6-liter four accounting for the rest. When fully equipped with options like ventilated seats, the Exclaim ($21,095) nudges past $26,000.
While the Soul has vanquished the xB and will-o’-the-wisp Nissan Cube, new compact crossover competition has arrived from the Mini Countryman, Fiat 500L, and of course the Nissan Juke. Yet it’s hard to imagine these contenders disrupting the Soul’s dominance, especially given the new car’s level of improvement. Like a boutique hotel, it has premium qualities that are a cut above the other choices, but it’s value-priced.

2014 Kia Soul

Base Price: $15,495
As-Tested: $26,000
Engines: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve I-4, 164 hp @ 6200 rpm, 151 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm; 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve I-4, 130 hp @ 6300 rpm, 118 lb-ft. @ 4850 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
L x W x H: 163.0 x 70.9 x 63.0 in.
Legroom (F/R): 40.9/39.1 in
Headroom (F/R): 39.6/39.5 in
Cargo capacity (seats up/down): 49.5/61.3 cu ft
Curb Weight: 2714-2879 lb
EPA Mileage: TBA
2014 Kia Soul
2014 Kia Soul

New For 2014

The 2014 Kia Soul is all-new, and it improves upon a previously enticing package.

Vehicle Summary

In 2009, Kia was known for crappy, uncool cars. Today, it's one of the hippest automakers around. The Soul played a big part in catalyzing that rapid change. The funky box car went on sale, resonated with buyers, became a success, and has been one of Kia's best sellers since. Hoping to keep a good thing going, Kia is bringing out a brand-new Soul for 2014. Not only is it new, the 2014 Kia Soul is seriously improved. It's quieter, it handles better, it's on a bigger platform, it's more comfortable, it's more spacious, and it's prettier. It's a much better car, and the last Soul was pretty good to begin with. Kia is doing it right, and this second-generation Soul shows just how good the Korean automaker can be.


Block-shaped cars are dying. The Honda Element is a fossil on used-car lots, and the Scion xB is going to be discontinued. But there is one car that can carry the funky-box, compact-crossover class, a car that outsells the Scion by six to one -- the 2014 Kia Soul. The Soul has a bunch of mojo that buyers have loved for about four years, and now there's a new Soul for 2014.

Are you an 18- to 29-year-old male? Are you single, individualistic, and into music? Well then, the Kia Soul is the perfect car for you. At least that's what Kia tells us. The Android-based navigation and infotainment setup will likely please buyers in that demographic, but the Soul will impress just about anyone (of any age) who gets into it.

The 2014 Kia Soul rides on an all-new chassis that is about 29 percent stiffer than the last car's. The Soul's front and rear suspension setups have been upgraded, and the front subframe gets bushings to reduce ride harshness. There's electrically assisted power steering, not the old car's hydraulic system, and a six-speed automatic transmission, an upgrade to the last car's four-speed slushbox; both function and feel much better than the parts they replace. The new Soul is better looking than its predecessor, too, taking styling cues from Kia's popular Track'ster concept car.

All of these improvements should ensure that the new Soul, like the old Soul, will carry the funky-box class on its own.

You'll like:

  • Better ride quality, less road noise
  • Deceivingly spacious
  • Good steering

You won't like:

  • Polarizing exterior styling
  • Only the lowest trim gets a stick shift
  • Small cargo area with rear seats raised

Key Competitors

  • Fiat 500L
  • Mini Countryman
  • Nissan Cube
  • Scion xB
2014 Kia Soul Front Right View
Whether or not you're a fan of the hip-hop hamsters, or the new fit and trim tuxedo-clad rodent trio, there's no denying the popularity of the Kia Soul. Whereas the Scion xB and Nissan Cube had their moments of popularity, the Soul has continued to get more and more popular with customers, and handily out-sells both the Cube and xB. In addition to more amenities and refinement, the 2014 Kia Soul can now claim a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
2014 Kia Soul Red Zone Front Three Quarter
Kia announced today that it will spice up its funky 2014 Soul hatchback with a special edition package. The Kia Soul has historically been offered with limited-run models, and it appears the second-generation Soul will be no different. The first of those, the 2014 Kia Soul Red Zone, was apparently inspired by the Kia Track'ster Concept shown at the 2012 Chicago auto show.
Kia Soul Ev Prototype
Kia confirmed earlier this year that an all-electric version of the Kia Soul hatchback will go on sale next year. The 2015 Kia Soul EV will be the first Kia electric vehicle to be sold outside of its home market in South Korea. We’ve previously spotted prototypes of the 2015 Kia Soul EV testing, but now Kia has revealed much more information about the upcoming EV.
2014 Kia Soul 2013 SEMA DJ Booth Concept Front Three Quarters View
Amid thumping electronic music at the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market Association show, Kia today pulled the wraps of its latest tuner concept cars. This year, the 2014 Kia Soul was the company's star SEMA show attraction.

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2014 Kia Soul
2014 Kia Soul
Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4
24 MPG City | 30 MPG Hwy
Top Ranking Vehicles - MPG
2014 Nissan Cube
S 1.8 FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4
27 MPG City | 31 MPG Hwy
2014 Kia Soul
2014 Kia Soul
Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4
24 MPG City | 30 MPG Hwy
2014 Scion xB
Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4
22 MPG City | 28 MPG Hwy
2014 Kia Soul
2014 Kia Soul
Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4
Top Ranking Vehicles - Price
2014 Kia Soul
2014 Kia Soul
Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4
2014 Kia Soul
2014 Kia Soul
Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4
Top Ranking Vehicles - Horsepower
2014 Kia Soul
2014 Kia Soul
Base FWD 4-Dr Wagon I4

2014 Kia Soul Specifications

Quick Glance:
1.6L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
24 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
30 MPG
130 hp @ 6300rpm
118 ft lb of torque @ 4850rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats (optional)
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control (optional)
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer Rear (optional)
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
60,000 miles / 60 months
100,000 miles / 120 months
100,000 miles / 60 months
60,000 miles / 60 months
Recall Date
Kia Motors Corporation (Kia) is recalling certain model year 2014 Kia Soul vehicles manufactured July 21, 2013, through January 17, 2014. In the affected vehicles, the plug that secures the pinion gear to the steering gear assembly may loosen due to an improper application of thread-locking adhesive during the assembly process.
As a result, the pinion gear can separate from the steering gear assembly, causing a loss of steering, thereby increasing the risk of a crash.
Kia will notify owners, and dealers will replace the pinion plug with a new pinion plug which has properly applied thread-locking adhesive, free of charge. The recall began on July 25, 2014. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia's number for this recall is SC108.
Potential Units Affected
Kia Motors Corporation

Recall Date
Kia Motors America (Kia) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Soul and Soul electric vehicles manufactured July 21, 2013, to January 8, 2015. A section of the accelerator pedal may bend and fracture.
If the vehicle has a bent or broken accelerator pedal, the driver may have difficulty accelerating the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.
Kia will notify owners, and dealers will add a supporting rubber underneath the pedal stopper, free of charge. The recall began on March 24, 2015. Owners may contact Kia customer service at 1-800-333-4542. Kia's number for this recall is SC116.
Potential Units Affected
Kia Motors America

NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength
IIHS Front Small Overlap

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Five Year Cost of Ownership: $28,672 What's This?
Value Rating: Above Average